Last night the “Critics’ Choice” Grand Tasting kick-off of the 2009 New York Wine Experience showcased the usual round up of the world’s best wineries and winemakers. The crowds swarmed the aisles of the 5th and 6th floors of the New York Marriott Marquis tasting one trophy wine after the next. It is an overwhelming experience and a daunting process to navigate such a plethora of holy juice.
I managed on night one to taste some ethereal wines including:
2005 Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta, 2005 Bond Vecina, 1999 Vega Sicilia Unico, 2003 Lafite, 2003 Haut Brion, Pride 2005 Cab Reserve, 1995 Latour, Red Car 2007 Trolley Pinot, 2003 Pichon Baron, 2005 Mouton Rothschild, 2007 Palacios L’Ermita and the list goes on. It is not hard to string together an hour of super star tasting without too much thought. It is the ultimate “kid in the candy store” vignette.
Besides the complete indulgence, I managed some notable discoveries. Here are a few from Grand Tasting Night 1:
1) Ridge Monte Bello 1989 was the most interesting wine of the night for me. It was not the most heralded year for California Cab, and Parker rated this wine 75 points and was not the only critic to downplay the wine. They could not be more wrong, because now it is simply amazing. It has a gorgeous mushroom and earthy character that blends with a sweet brightness on the nose. It tastes like a 25-year-old Paulliac from a strong vintage, coats your palate pleasingly, finishes long and elegantly, and is holding up amazingly well. I asked winemaker Paul Draper about it and how he thought about the wine on release and now. He recalled tasting it alongside 1989 Pichon Lalande, which Parker has consistently rated 92 points, and guess which wine he thinks is better. So, was it that the wine was really that unappealing on release or the wine press just blew it?
2)Good wine is made in Nagano Prefecture. Mercian Katsunuma Winery was pouring the 2004 Kykyogahara Signature Merlot. The wine was round, with lovely fruit, great structure, and classically styled Merlot. The Signature is only made in the best vintages and it appears to sell for about $20 retail. The wine is so good and I felt a little sad for them trying to compete with the big boys that surrounded them in the ball room. They make about 150-200 cases of the Signature in the best vintages, which 2004 was in Nagano!
3) The 2006 Bordeaux being poured were unimpressive. The were tight, all had touches of astringents and stiff tannin. Just not an interesting showing and wonder if it is the stage they are at and if they will ever show better.
4) Where are the social media freaks in this crowd? It is an awfully quiet Twitter conversation at #nywe that James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator and few others are connecting through. Is this completely wine 1.0?
For now, off to the Rising Rhone Star and Right Bank Tastings!